Insufficient efficacy and a recommendation from an independent data monitoring committee has prompted Eli Lilly to pull the plug on its late-stage heart disease candidate evacetrapib.

The drug giant said it has now terminated a Phase III trial of the CETP inhibitor assessing its potential for high-risk atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, and that its development for this indication will be discontinued, after the committee said there was a low probability the study would hit its primary endpoint.

Unsurprisingly, the firm expressed disappointment with the development, but was also quick to assure investors that “the unfortunate outcome for evacetrapib does not change our ability to generate long-term growth”. 

"Our recent string of positive data-readouts and our strong pipeline position us to grow revenue and expand margins through the remainder of this decade,” said Derica Rice, Lilly’s chief financial officer.

Nevertheless, the move is expected to result in a fourth-quarter charge to R&D expense of up to $90 million (pre-tax), or around $0.05 per share (after-tax), and the firm’s stock dropped more than 10% in the aftermath of the news.